How Big is Alcatraz?

The size of Alcatraz Island is 22 acres (8.9 ha). It is located 1.5 miles (2.4 km) off San Francisco. Cell sizes vary. The ones at the B & C block measure 5 x 9 feet. There are 336 cells at the B & C Block. The D Block cells are bigger.


The island is also known as “The Rock”. Several facilities were built on the island, including a lighthouse. It is best known for being used as a prison. It was first used as a military prison and then a Federal Bureau of Prisons prison up to 1963. That was the year it was closed down due to rising costs.

Information about the Cells

All the cells on the island had a toilet, a sleeping cot, running water and a sink. The size of Alcatraz Island’s cells was such that you could touch the cell walls by merely stretching your arms. Prisoners in the D Block cells were kept there 24 hours except for a weekly trip to the recreation yard.

The island had 6 solitary confinement cells and 36 segregation cells. A couple of cells at the C Block were utilized as guard staff restrooms. The A Block cells were used mainly for storage purposes.

Other Information

Inmates could receive one visit a month. All the visits required approval from the warden. Visitors and inmates were not allowed to talk about present events and make physical contact. Around 300 civilians lived on the island during the years it was used as a prison.

The majority of them lived in Building #64. The average number of prisoners was 260. The most number of prisoners ever was 302. The lowest was 222.

Escape Attempts

In the 29 years the Rock was operational, it has been claimed that no inmate was able to escape from it. 36 inmates had 14 escape attempts. 23 were captured, six were killed and two were caught trying.

On June 11, 1962, Clarence Anglin, John Anglin and Frank Morris successfully dug their way out and escaped on a raft. According to the FBI, the three prisoners died while trying to get to the mainland. But through the years, reported sightings of the three persisted. Family members of the three inmates all claimed to have gotten letters from the men.

The history and size of Alcatraz Island has made it a popular tourist spot. It is now run by the National Park Service.

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